The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50:7)
Flint is a hard form of quartz. Since ancient times, it has been used by humans for tools such as axes or to help ignite fires. What a marvelous image Isaiah uses in this Servant Song. A face set like flint is one that is hard in its purpose, knows what it’s about, and perhaps ignites others into faith and action. As we heard in worship recently, these songs were to be embodied by the future Messiah, the ultimate suffering servant, but also, it came to be understood that the experience and ministry exemplified by these songs would be shared by Christ’s church.
As we reflect upon Messiah’s fifty years of ministry, we rightly give thanks for what has come before. Even in hard times, God was there to help us through. Yet, we also set our faces toward a future filled with hope. It is hopeful because God will continue to help and guide us no matter what comes our way. It is joyful because we can discover our wounded Christ in those we serve, and they can discover the risen Christ in us. Together, we are church, and the love we share changes us and the world. We don’t get lost looking back, because Christ calls us forward.
I’m filled with confidence and thanksgiving as I reflect upon Messiah’s future, because I know whatever it holds, Jesus holds us all in his embrace. God’s face is set toward us; seeking to fulfill the ancient Aaronic blessing we hear so often:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Happy anniversary, dear Church.
Originally published in Messiah Lutheran’s newsletter, The Messenger (October 2018 edition).
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.
© 2018 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.